Learn How to Answer Translator Job Interview Questions

Focus on Talking About Your Skills and Experience

woman smilling during job interview
••• Jakob Helbig/Cultura/Getty Images

The translation business is exploding as businesses go global. Translators have many options for work in the field, from participating in virtual conference calls to translating documents and recordings, subtitling a movie or working in a courtroom or hospital. 

Spanish is the language most in-demand, followed by Japanese, Korean, Chinese and French. Translators can have flexible schedules albeit with tight deadlines, and with sites like Gengo (featuring international clientele), Translatorcafe and Verbalizeit, you can choose projects that match your skill and fit your calendar.

Translators work in a variety of fields including education, law, literary, science and technology. "Transcreating" may also be a component of the job--a mix of translating and copywriting with a local focus to adapt text culturally and linguistically to the audience.  Here are some typical questions you'll encounter in an interview about your experience and more.

Work Experience

  • Do you have a certain area of specialization or do you work on generic translation projects of many types?
  • Do you hold any translation certifications?
  • What kind of training do you partake in to continue to improve your skills?
  • Have you trained in particular fields relevant to interpreting work (eg, medical, legal, social work, education)
  • What types of clients do you typically work with?
  • Would you ever want to work on your own and start your own freelance translation business or translation agency?
  • Why did you decide to become an interpreter?

    Interpersonal Experience

    • What kinds of people do you have the most difficulty working with?
    • What type of ethical dilemmas have you encountered as a translator and how did you deal with those?
    • What would you do if you were interpreting and a person said something that you did not agree with or found upsetting?
    • When you are interpreting, do you attempt to establish a rapport with the person or do you prefer to keep the relationship formal and more detached?
    • What types of ethical dilemmas have you encountered and how did you resolve them?


    • How well can you understand different dialects and accents?
    • How do you handle body language and gestures which are not understood by another person with a different cultural background?
    • How do you handle a situation when you didn't hear exactly what was said but you understand the general gist? 
    • Do you try to translate every single word or idea expressed, or do you try to summarize what was said?
    • What would you do if you made a mistake in translation or did not understand a term?
    • How do you prepare for an interpretation session?
    • Do you translate every word verbatim or offer a summary?